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Bringing the Beach to Tirana

All this weekend Sheshi Nënë Tereza is the venue for a beach volleyball tournament. It's not an obvious location since spectators and competitors have to brave the traffic round the square to reach the court - or pitch - or beach - or whatever it's called. It also lacks a sea breeze to mitigate the stifling heat. But it's a nice idea. There were only a few spectators when I passed by today, but perhaps it will pick up over the next two days.


Heinrich said…
Anonymous said…
Ok Alwyn, here's your chance to show off your skills as a "sports photographer" :D Only "juicy" shots please!
Anonymous said…

It is with utter disgust and disappointment that I read the above article by AA
Gill (link at the bottom of this email). Never have I seen insults and language
of this calibre used against the Albanian people or any other people for that
matter be it in the British press or that abroad. I can understand that
sensational journalism yields interest in readers, as a result more advertising
revenue for yourselves, nonetheless writing fallacy and non factual journalism
can create the opposite reaction. As a proud Albanian citizen I have the moral
obligation and the urge to set some things straight with regards to Mr Gill's
article. Sadly for me, I cannot use the same language content as him given as I
am a lady!

On famous or infamous Albanians, again the article could not be further from
the truth. Our roots go back to Alexander the Great, Mohamed Ali (King of
Egypt), Kemal Ata Turk (Ruler of modern Turkey), Skanderbeg (Albanian King and
invincible fighter of the Ottomans). Only lately was another famous Albanian
awarded the price of Man Booker Award here in the UK; to aid Mr Gill's
ignorance it is Ismail Kadare I am referring to. John and James Belushi
(actors) are also Albanian and so is Eliza Dushku (actress) and Inva Mula
(soprano), George Tenet (CIA official). Should Mr Gill need further information
on the horrid personality of Albanians he only need read Childe Harold by Lord
Byron, a countrymen of Mr Gill who loved Albania so much he spent years there.
An article like yours would make Edith Durham (who dedicated her life to the
Albanian cause) turn in her grave and the connoisseurs of Albanian culture and
history like Edwin Jacques (American Historian), Noel Malcolm (Oxford
Historian) turn away with disgust. I could almost excuse his ignorance of
Albanian history and culture, if it were not for the fact that it is this
history we have written with our blood in fighting for our right to exist as a

The article starts with a degrading comment on a world-renown figure and now
Saint, Mother Teresa. In fact no major comments are required on Mother Teresa's
life and accomplishments as this will be known to most of us. Her deeds,
generosity and dedication were not in "helping people die" but in actual facts
in helping them live! It is with great pride that we can say she was an
Albanian woman, and a great one at that! I wonder if Mr Gill ever helped one
live or die for that matter! Quite shameful is all I can say. As for Albanian
girls, their tops and peroxide Mr Gill only needs to visit Glasgow on a Friday
night or Essex on any given day!

With regards to the religious split in Albania, Mr Gill is quite the
"statistician" just as he is a "historian", "anthropologist" , dedicated
"phonetics researcher" "fashionista" and expert in "aesthetic dentistry". He is
in addition quite the seeker for late night "entertainment" . Little does he
know that religion matters less to the Albanians than does their identity, one
which they have fought for centuries to maintain. A component of this identity
is the Albanian language, quite distinct as Mr Gill mentions, and one we are
proud to have as a nation. It is of little importance or concern what he thinks
of the language as it is the technicality of this very language that makes us
able to pronounce other languages to the extent that most Albanians you meet
will speak at least one more language in addition to their native Albanian. It
is in fact quite commendable that we have kept our language given all the
occupations and invasions Albania has been through. Since Mr Gill was so
impressed with the words "shitet" he should perhaps enquire on the meaning of
the English word "car" in Albanian!

Mr Gill has made an observation on a country by briefly visiting one or two
cities with his negativity already set as a bias. There are not 4 million
Albanians in the world, one needs to account for the Albanians in Kosova,
Macedonia, Turkey, Italy and Montenegro without even adding those who have
migrated following the communist era! You'd better check those facts before you
splash on long articles, ridicule and generalise honest hard working people by
casting them as criminal gangsters. By doing so you have not only offended
those 4 million Albanians but at least x2 that number.

Crime is part of society and of course will be present in developing economies.
But you only need to go as far as Finchley Road on London to get mugged, or
Peckham to get killed. As far as pimping goes, it is a shame that all this
demand is coming out of Britain. Basic law of supply and demand is what
explains the fact that Mr Gill was unable to find red light districts or
"entertainment" shops in Tirana, because that Mr Gill is not who we are as a
people!! If however you are looking for such entertainment, you only need to go
to the next Slug & Lettuce where you will find drunken people willing to do all
after downing a few dozen pints. Yes we do value family, tradition and our
values above all because that is what makes us Albanians, be it from the north,
south or across the borders which were so horribly divided at the London
conference in 1913, and the Paris Conference in 1919, but where you
overstepped the border is you offended our identity and that Albanians cannot

Mr Gill should leave old Albanian people and youngsters alone, they need no
lessons from an angry pathetic imperialistic Scot on how to live their lives or
maintain their teeth, meanwhile he should worry about when to next polish his
veneers and where to go next on holiday or buy his third house! Nor do we
require teaching on how to dress by a man carrying such a hat or sunglasses.
Surely we do not need lessons of the kind you are giving to Iraq, Afghanistan
or Lebanon. It is no longer the thirties when you could write amusing comments
about little Albania so you could fill your pockets and the rest their Sunday
afternoons. One cannot possibly base judgements and cast all Albanians as
drug-dealers and criminals. If that were the case how come so many Brits are
trusting Albanians to invest their money, manage their businesses, carry out
genome reasearch projects at Oxford or Cambridge, teach at LSE, Imperial
College, Exeter and Oxford Brookes University?! To be the biggest group of
foreigners from just one country at the EBRD, Goldman Sachs etc? And this is
only a modest minimal sample of Albanians in the UK alone, let us not even
mention achievements in other countries or abroad. There is a strong Albanian
community in the UK and one which shall respond to articles like this which are
are dangerous and only create hatred. I am quite positive you shall receive a
lot more comments following mine, if you haven't done so already, but I need to
express my shock at publishing such an insulting article with no clear balance
and a distinct purpose of darkening the image of Albanians. There is no mention
of Albanian hospitality, friendliness and kind-hearted attitude. No mention of
the nature and the beautiful land that Shakespeare although he had never
visited cast as a scene in his play "The Twelfth night". And enough of that
Norman Wisdom stupidity, it is such old journalism it bores to death. I blame
the editor as much as the imbecile that wrote this garbage of an article.

If you do the maths: -100,000 * 365 = -36.5 million newspaper sales per year
at the age of media consent, I suppose this could be the impact of this stupid
clown's affair that Mr Gill bothered to classify as an article. Perhaps it is
the money language you can understand as there are 100,000 Albanians living and
working in the UK, and I shall make it my personal business to make them aware
of the lunacy written on their behalf in the Sunday Times. The minimal response
we demand as a community is an apology and as a nation to be left in peace.

E. Hoxha

(perhaps another infamous Albanian)

http://www.timesonl article/0, ,2099-2271185, 00.html

Ella Hoxha
Fund Manager
Global Bonds
INVESCO Asset Management
30 Finsbury Square
London EC2A 1AG
ourmanintirana said…
Hi Ella, thanks for sharing this with us. I agree totally on the fialure of Gill to stress the hospitality and decency of people in Albania.

The young men here may not be fashionably dressed, but neither are they drunken and foul-mouthed, nor do they pick fights with strangers and shout abuse at passers-by, nor do they throw up in the gutters; all things that are far to common in my own home city of Belfast and in towns and cities across the UK.

I'm afraid all my money is with Fidelity.

Decided to give the sports photogrpahy a miss. I don't have the right camera to look professional; I'd just look like some amateur trying to get a few juicy pictures to post on the internet. And we wouldn't want that, would we?

Besides, there is not a picutre in the world that would persuade me to sit for hours in the open sun at 35C.

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And now the end is near
and so i face nanananana...

Never did like that crappy song.

But it's true nevertheless.

Tomorrow in the wee hours of the morning we will be heading for the airport for the last time. I suppose it was too much to expect that I could have kept this going while getting ready to leave. So apologies for the lack of postings over the last weeks. This is post number 380 something so I suppose one post every two days is not a bad average.

There were probably 380 more in my head or scribbled down on scraps of paper, but many of them are perhaps best left there.

I suppose I should be penning - or typing - my final thoughts and reflections on two years in Tirana, but right now I don't have any. Maybe in a month or two though I might come back with something.

Thanks to all of you who have read this blog - especially those of you who have become regulars. Thanks also for linking and thanks to all who left comments.

As for the other stars of the blog, Bella now has her own …


Welcome to Our Man in Tirana. I moved to Tirana, capital of Albania, in October 2005 and left in October 2007. This blog is a mix of photographs, reports, links, impressions and, undoubtedly, prejudices relating to the city and the country.

Since I am no longer in Tirana I am no longer updating this blog. However, there are over 300 posts covering this two year period and I hope that they are still of some interest.

So if you are curious about Albania or if you are planning to visit I hope this blog will be of value.

Miss Globe 2007

On Saturday, we were at the Rogner meeting with an expat friend who was leaving Tirana. It was breakfast time, and as our friend was finishing his tea the breakfast room started to fill up with over-dressed (or under-dressed) young women wearing blue sashes. These were the contestants for the Miss Globe 2007 beauty pageant being held in Tirana tonight at the Palace of Congresses. High heel boots and mini-skirts - or in a couple of cases micro-skirts, or possibly just belts - have never struck me as obvious breakfast attire, but the girls seemed happy enough tottering and wobbling around with their tea and toast. I'm not sure why they were wearing their sashes - perhaps in case they forgot which country they came from.
As we were leaving they were boarding a large coach which I had seen a number of times around the city in the last few days for their next trip. I'm not sure how some of them made it up the steps, or how they managed to sit down, but perhaps these are the kinds o…